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Actress Nafessa Williams Had To Learn The Power Of Pressing Pause To Win At Life

"Having financial stability is nice but by no means does it mean you are successful."

Finding Balance

In xoNecole's Finding Balance, we profile boss women making boss moves in the world and in their respective industries. We talk to them about their business, their life, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.

The only Black female superheroes that I can name off of the top of my head are my mother and "Thunder" from CW's Black Lightning. If you're not familiar with Black Lightning, I don't know what you are doing with your free time because it is one of the single best shows I've started watching. Nafessa Williams, alongside Cress Williams and China Anne McClain, effortlessly portrays a 21st century Black woman as she ebbs and flows through relationships, mental health and family drama - all while being a superhuman. Adding to that, she has broken ground playing the first African-American lesbian superhero on television. But, this is just the tip of the iceberg for Nafessa.

The 30-year-old actress has starred in the recent Deon Taylor feature Black & Blue alongside Naomie Harris, Frank Grillo and Tyrese Gibson for Screen Gems, had a season-long arc on the CBS series Code Black, and recurred on the hit Showtime series Twin Peaks.

For this installment of "Finding Balance", xoNecole had the chance to discuss with actress Nafessa Williams about meditation, traveling with her friends, and exercising as part of her daily lifestyle.

At what point in your life did you understand the importance of pressing pause and finding balance in both your personal and professional life? 

I remember it was right before I booked Black Lightning, I was auditioning every day, sometimes two to three times a day and I was drained mentally and physically. I was all about my work and busy trying to make it. I wasn't really enjoying life though, and I hadn't gone on a trip in about seven years, didn't have a self-care regimen, and was all work. A friend of mine advised me to press the pause button and live a little so I could give over to my craft and, more importantly, so I wouldn't drive myself crazy. So, it was at that moment I started to live more and take care of myself.

"I remember it was right before I booked Black Lightning, I was auditioning every day, sometimes two to three times a day and I was drained mentally and physically. I was all about my work and busy trying to make it. I wasn't really enjoying life though, and I hadn't gone on a trip in about seven years, didn't have a self-care regimen, and was all work. A friend of mine advised me to press the pause button and live a little so I could give over to my craft and, more importantly, so I wouldn't drive myself crazy."

Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images

What is a typical day in your life? If no day is quite the same, give me a rundown of a typical work week and what that might consist of. 

A typical day in my life consists of prayer, meditation, [and a] morning workout. If I'm filming, I head to set; if not, I'm knocking out a to-do list. My favorite things to eat for breakfast are Beyond sausage and avocado toast, oatmeal and fruit, but if I'm pressed for time I'll have a banana and a green juice. I typically meditate for about 20 minutes everyday. I love the guided meditations with Deepak Chopra and Oprah on the Chopra Center Meditation website.

How do you wind down at night? 

I love to wind down at night with a shower, candles, and some relaxing music. My favorites to listen to are Lauryn Hill, Sade, Jill Scott, and H.E.R.. I lowkey go to bed watching Martin every night as if I don't already know every episode word for word.

When you have a busy week, what’s the most hectic part of it?

A busy week for me is when I'm filming every day that week. It's kinda tough being on set all day and night and needing to run errands because by the time I'm off work everything is closed; that can be hectic for me. But, I try to organize my weekend to handle the things I couldn't during the week. Oh, and trying to maintain my workouts when I'm filming can be tough when I have early call times.

Do you practice any types of self-care? What does that look like for you? 

Yes, mediation, workouts and therapy are a part of my self-care routine. I also treat myself to massages pretty often and quality time with myself.

"Mediation, workouts and therapy are a part of my self-care routine. I also treat myself to massages pretty often and quality time with myself."

Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

What advice do you have for busy women who feel like they don’t have time for self-care? 

I would tell women, "You are what matters the most and if you aren't balanced, happy, centered, you can't give your best self to anything or anyone else." Self-love and our happiness should be at the top of the list. Make self-care a priority!

How do you find balance with:

Friends?

I talk to my close friends just about every day. When I'm filming the show, I don't really get to kick it until the weekends though. I love to travel with my friends. I'm a true Sagittarius who loves adventure. My favorite [memory] with my friends is my 30th bday trip to the Bahamas with seven of my girlfriends. We partied, jumped off boats, swam in a cage and watched sharks being fed. Literally my most memorable trip so far.

Love/Relationships? Dating?

Work has been the priority for me over the last six years, but I am learning to find the balance when it comes to dating. I do want to have a family soon, so I'm starting to mentally prepare myself for the sacrifices that I'll need to make.

Exercise?

Exercising is a part of my lifestyle. I try to workout at least five days a week. The workout schedule varies depending on my shooting schedule. So I work out with my trainer Justin Shaw who created a dope 15-minute ab workout. It's intense as hell but knowing it's only 15 minutes is the incentive. I also switch it up and do some of my workouts on my own which typically last for about an hour. I like to do full body workouts. Legs, arms, back and abs.

"Exercising is a part of my lifestyle. I try to workout at least five days a week."

What about health? Do you cook or find yourself eating out?

I've been a pescatarian for the last eight years and it works for me. I've actually been in the kitchen lately, trying new recipes, cooking for my friends, enjoying my own food at home. Every now and then, I order out but not as much as I used to.

Do you ever detox?

I've detoxed before but it's not something that I do regularly. I've done a juice cleansing detox where I juiced for a couple of days. I loved the idea of the cleanse but I lost weight which is why I don't do it often. I love my weight and at the moment I'm just interested in toning.

When you are going through a bout of uncertainty, or feeling stuck, how do you handle it?

My spirituality is very important to me. Prayer and meditation help me get through moments of uncertainty. Journaling helps as well.

"My spirituality is very important to me. Prayer and meditation help me get through moments of uncertainty."

Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Girlboss Rally NYC 2018

What do you do when you have a creative block on a project or feel like you have to clear your head before going into character?

When I feel blocked creatively or need to clear my head, I do a couple breathing exercises or go on a run. This tends to help me get centered.

Honestly, what does success and happiness mean to you? 

Being aware of and walking in your purpose is what I call success. I've learned tangible things don't equate to success, the intangible is what I'm after. For me, happiness and success is being fulfilled Spiritually, Physically, Psychologically and Mentally. Everything else will fall in alignment. I'll be honest, having financial stability is nice but by no means does it mean you are successful.

For more of Nafessa, follow her on Instagram.

Featured image via Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

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